File No. 819.1052/57.
Minister Price to the Secretary of State.
Panama , December 7, 1915 .
Sir: Supplementing my despatch No. 699 of December 1, relating to the disarmament of the National Police of Panama of large arms, I have the honor to report that in the course of my visit to the Panaman Foreign Office this afternoon in company with Captain Oliver Edwards, whom I presented as the representative of our military authorities in the further investigation of the late riots in the cities of Colon and Panama, I took up again with Señor Lefevre in the presence of Captain Edwards the matter of the disarmament aforesaid, requesting that the arms might be delivered up forthwith.
Señor Lefevre replied that I had not yet answered his last note (the one communicated to the Department with my despatch No. 680 of November 17). I stated to him that my note to which his was a reply was sufficiently clear and definite in its terms, in my opinion, to render a reply to his note really unnecessary. He then indulged at some length in a number of arguments heretofore used and reported to the Department, adding one to the effect that the rifles and certain military instruction of their police were both necessary for use at least in the outlying provinces in cases of insurrection or violence there, to quell which they would not feel like calling upon our military authorities. I replied that we were not asking for the disarmament except in the cities of Panama and Colon, and Captain Edwards offered the suggestion from General Edwards that the rifles might be held in storage along with reserve arms of our military in the Canal Zone for redelivery for Panama’s use in the event that we or they should become involved in war with a foreign power.
No definite statement was obtainable from Señor Lefevre and, of course, while awaiting instructions from the Department herein, as directed to do by the Department’s instruction No. 201 of November 5, I am unauthorized to present our demands in a more formal or emphatic way than I have done.
I feel quite convinced that if the Department will authorize a firm and unconditional demand to be made with all emphasis for the rifles, accompanied, if seeming necessary, by the threat to exercise on our part much farther reaching rights under the Canal Treaty, such as taking over their police force in these cities in the event of their refusal to give up the arms, Panama will yield.
I have [etc.]